Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Day to Serve .... Feeding the Hungry

The governors of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland and the Mayor of Washington D.C. have called on everyone to join together for a Day to Serve - one day to organize or participate in a project to feed the hungry or clean up your neighborhood.  

In an ongoing effort to help my students work toward their practice goals, I’ve decided to donate one can of food for every 30 minutes of practice completed by my students for the week of September 21 - 28.   I'm going to encouraged parents to match my donation.  

Food donations will benefit the LINK foundation which serves hungry families in Herndon, Sterling, and Ashburn, VA. 

Anyone is welcome to drop donations at Herndon Middle School on September 29th, between 9am - 2pm (901 Locust Street, Herndon, VA 20170).  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Become a Star!

I struggled with choosing my studio incentive program this year and was thrilled when Notable Music Studio blogged about her new 'A Star is Born' incentive program.  I really wanted this year's incentive to focus on practicing and this program does just that.  To learn more about this incentive program hop on over to Notable Music Studio.

My students are already working really hard toward their practice goals.  I love what a little motivation can do to help students progress.

I've adapted Sheryl's program just a bit.  Instead of awarding students with charms, once they complete each 'Star-Challenge,' I ordered these colored silicone bracelets that have 'A Start is Born' engraved in them (to go along with each big star).  Here's how I've  broken down each Star-Challenge:

  1. Behind the Scenes (technique) - To earn a purple bracelet, each student must complete an entire practice chart.  If you are interested to know about the technique charts that I use - visit All Things Cranky.  
  2.  A Star-Studded Staff (note ID) - Students who can pass off their flash cards within a minute will earn a yellow bracelet.  If students have already passed off their note cards, then I have them memorize their key signatures (including being able to draw the Circle of 5th under a minute).
  3.  Famous Celebrity Composers (composers) - I love getting ideas/materials from all of you wonderful bloggers!  I found these composer packets from Joy over at Color in My Piano.  I'm going to let my students earn a yellow bracelet for each lapbook they complete.  I hope Joy posts more (hint hint)! 
  4. 'Reel'y Great Rhythms (rhythm) - This category is still a work in progress.  Haven't figured out how I'm going to do this challenge quite yet.  Ideas? The award for completing it, however, will be a blue bracelet. 
  5. Lights, Camera, Action! (theory) - Students who complete half of their theory book will receive a red bracelet.  The theory books that I use are a bit long and take at least a year to complete, so I felt like completing half was quite a feat.  
A lot of my students have asked me what they earn when they get to the big gold star labeled 'You.'  I've tried to tell them that they become a star for completing the board. Perhaps another award is in the works for each individual who finishes?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cat and Mouse Game

In preparation for Spring Festival (National Federation of Music Clubs), I held a Performance Class at my home so each student could perform for each other before the actual event.  We had some extra time at the end, so we played one of my student's favorite games - Cat and Mouse.  Here's how to play:
Materials needed
  • Little Mice - I grabbed these little 'fuzz balls' (that's what my students call them) from Micheal's and then I hot glued a piece of yarn in the center.  You can get more creative and actually make little mice with cute ears and eyes.  I went for the simple approach. 
  • Big Flash Cards - These make it easy for each student to see.  I use Teacher Flashcards put out by TCW Resources, but I'm sure you could make your own.  
  • Mouse Catcher - I use a food strainer, but I wish it was bigger.  I used to have a really big lid with a nice handle that would catch the mice easily.  Unfortunately, I left all my pan lids in the bottom oven drawer after my last move.  Sad face ...
How to play

Each student places their mice close together in the center.  Make sure that their strings/yarn (tails) aren't crossed with the person sitting next to them.  Choose someone to be the Cat to hold the Mouse catcher (lid or strainer).  Choose a specific note for students to identify as you flip through the flash cards.  Once they see the chosen note they pull their mouse as quickly as they can as to avoid being trapped by the Cat.  Whoever is left in the center wins.  Sometimes the Cat wins!  You can use this game for practically anything (notes, chords, intervals, etc). 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Studio Newsletter 2012

After reading a wonderful blog post by Wendi at Piano Escapades a while back about Parent Newsletters, I have wanted to create a seasonal Newsletter for my studio (at my pace, monthly is too much of a commitment!).  I was reminded again about this idea when I read a more recent blog post by Joy at Color in my Piano where she shared sample Newsletters and many tips on what to include, especially for marketing purposes.  

As I was starting to draft a really long e-mail to my parents, I realized that all the information that I was trying to communicate would look a lot more crisp in a Newsletter format.  So, here's my Studio Spring Newsletter.  I created it with Pages from the iWork suite (Apple product).  I'm not really familiar with Pages and got frustrated a few times, but I finally settled on this design. 

Spring Newsletter 2012 - Leavitt Piano Studio